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High Museum importing art, artifacts from Habsburg Dynasty for fall 2015

BY HOWARD POUSNER / AJC

The High Museum of Art, which has steadily imported world masterpieces since attracting massive crowds and attention for its Centennial Olympics exhibition “Rings: Five Passions in World Art” nearly two decades ago, will bring another trove to Atlanta in fall 2015.

The museum announced Friday morning that it will host “Habsburg Splendor: Masterpieces from Vienna’s Imperial Collections,” 93 artworks and artifacts from Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. Including many works never before seen in the U.S., the exhibit will be on view Oct. 18, 2015 through Jan. 17, 2016.

The principal sovereign dynasty across Europe from the late Middle Ages all the way into the early 20th century, the Habsburgs also commanded a remarkable art collection. Much of it was commissioned by members of the extended royal family from the finest artists of their day.

Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Velazquez, Giorgione, Correggio and Tintoretto are among those who will be strongly represented in “Habsburg Splendor.”

Artifacts that also will detail the imperial story include arms and armor, sculpture, Greek and Roman antiquities, court costumes, carriages and decorative art objects.

High director Michael Shapiro said the exhibit grew out of a visit to the Kunsthistorisches’ Kunstkammer Wien, which reopened last year after a nine-year renovation that kept the majority of its treasures from public view. He called the museum within a museum “one of Europe’s great cultural gems.”

The High organized the show with the Kunsthistorisches and co-presenters Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, institutions that will host the tour before it makes it to Atlanta.

Kaywin Feldman, the Minneapolis Institute’s director and president and the exhibit’s hosting curator, called it “a true visual feast.” It will give viewers in the three cities, she said in a statement, “a rich, tangible, and fascinating sense of the lives and legacies of these important European rulers who shaped world history.”

Among the masterworks heretofore not presented in the U.S. will be the paintings “The Crowning With Thorns” (circa 1603) by Caravaggio, a 1536 portrait of Jane Seymour, Queen of England and third wife of Henry VIII, by Hans Holbein the Younger and Correggio’s “Jupiter and Io” (circa 1530-32).

The Habsburg news follows close on the heels of a High announcement that it will mount the exhibit “Cezanne and the Modern: Masterpieces of European Art from the Pearlman Collection” (Oct. 25 through Jan. 11, 2015). Another show of imported rarities is on the Midtown museum’s calendar, as well: “Make a Joyful Noise: Renaissance Art and Music at Florence Cathedral” (Oct. 25 through Jan. 11, 2015).

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